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Longboat resident leads international green roof media company

Linda Velazquez shares her lifelong love for plants, benefits of green roofs and her tips on starting your own living architecture on Longboat Key.

Linda Velazquez
Linda Velazquez
Photo by Petra Rivera
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Growing up, Longboat resident Linda Velazquez inherited her green thumb from her mother. But she didn’t know that being surrounded by plants all her life would impact her until her thirties. 

She started her career as a flight attendant working for Delta Airlines for 33 years. Velazquez said it was one particular flight flying over Germany when she noticed dozens of vegetated roofs that piqued her interest.

“That's what got me,” said Velazquez. “It was like the proverbial light over my head. I was like, ‘What is this and how can I do it?’ So, I just learned everything I could about it.”

Velazquez started in 1999 with the help of her husband to spread information on how plants on roofs will better the planet. Now, the online media company serves people worldwide, providing a one-stop shop for research and information relating to landscape architecture and green roofs. 

Velazquez was introduced to the profession through a family friend who was an architect. Feeling inspired, she got her bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia. 

After graduating, Velazquez still felt like she had more to learn. Starting in 1997, she interviewed different leaders in the industry around the world to create an independent research study on green roofs. What she thought was going to be a small project spanned over 7,500 pages. This research project became

"Asian Crossroads Over the Sea” in Fukuoka, Japan by green architect Emilio Ambasz.
Courtesy image

“It was a family effort for sure,” said Velazquez. “But even though it's international, we have done it all ourselves. I’m the writer and speaker. I travel all over the world talking to different experts and giving talks of my own. My daughter edits our videos. My son did the code for the website. My husband has helped with everything. I love that it sort of became a family business.”

This year hit 25 years and has grown immensely. Users can discover different studies, projects and connections related to green infrastructure, sustainability, biodiversity, etc. From this, Velazquez has had the opportunity to become an important name in the industry and lecture around the world about the benefits of green roofs, plant migration and sustainability.

“Usually, we build with impermeable materials, like tile, concrete, asphalt,” said Velazquez. “If you can replace it with permeable material, such as plants, which are living and breathing, there are so many advantages. Plants clean the air, filter the pollutants, and lower the temperature of the surrounding ambient air. It also catches the rainwater so it doesn’t allow the temperature to fluctuate and affect the materials of the building. This helps prolong the life of your roof. There are so many positives.”

Velazquez also started Sky Garden Studios in 2004. While has a more international focus, this company designs local sustainable plant communities and enhances the varied ecosystems with Florida-friendly plants as a way to promote living green architecture. 

Linda Velazquez designed this green roof pavilion in the Trial Gardens Of Rock Mill Park in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Image courtesy of Harris Hatcher

Her family moved to Longboat Key because of the great access to tennis and the beach. Velazquez joined the landscaping committee of her complex, Bayport, and has helped design most of the landscaping for her neighborhood. 

Velazquez also has done a few talks for her community to learn more about the green roof opportunities in Florida. She shared that she would love to start a green roof movement on Longboat. 

According to Velazquez, vegetated swales and rain gardens are the easiest ways to start learning about green architecture. Her top tips are picking plants that are drought tolerant and making an engineered soil mix with soil and inorganic material. She recommended the book, “Small Green Roofs: Low-Tech Options for Greener Living” by Nigel Dunnett for beginners. 

After years of hard work on the website, Velazquez is now in the early stages of writing her first book, “99 Ways To A Healthier Planet With Living Green Architecture.”

It will cover the basics of how green architecture will improve the Earth’s health. The book will be broken into 10 categories of different advantages, tips and reasons why green architecture will cool down the warming Earth. 

Velazquez hopes that her book will get across that sustainability is for now and not reserved for the future. With every work she has done, she hopes that it will lead to a cleaner, cooler and greener planet.



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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